People with learning disabilities and/or autism shouldn’t be living in hospitals

A new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows that people with learning disabilities and/or autism are not getting the care they deserve. Here, our Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Research, Sarah White, explains Sense’s reaction to the report.

Whilst many people may have been experiencing that ‘Friday feeling’ at the end of last week, I was feeling strong sense of deja vu and anger. On Friday the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published their Out of Sight progress report.

The CQC are responsible for assessing and monitoring health and social care services – a bit like Ofsted do for schools – and ensuring that they’re keeping people safe. Their report on Friday was about the ongoing scandal that is people with learning disabilities and/or autism being kept in hospitals and institutions instead of at home. 

Sadly the word ‘progress’ in the report title was a bit misplaced, as the report showed that in fact very little progress has been made at all.

Over 2,000 people are still living in hospitals and unsuitable settings

Since the Winterbourne View scandal over 10 years ago we have seen many reports, commitments and promises to tackle this important issue. Sadly the truth is that today over 2,000 people are living their lives in hospitals and unsuitable settings. A shocking number have lived like this for many years and it’s unacceptable. 

Like the CQC, we at Sense believe that one of the reasons that this hasn’t been resolved is the lack of services available to support people close to home. Too many times people are sent to hospital because there isn’t the support available locally to meet their needs.

This lack of local support also means that when people are in hospital it’s hard for them to come out again, as there aren’t any services to help them move home. 

We won’t stop until everyone is home

We urgently need to see this tackled; a hospital is not a home. Many families campaign tirelessly to get their loved ones home, and it’s unacceptable that the services just aren’t there to make this happen.

When will we stop reading about the horrific situations people are forced to live in, and start seeing stories about people living the lives they have a right to live, free and well supported?

At Sense we’ll continue to work on this issue, raising the importance of high-quality support that meets communication needs. We won’t stop until everyone is home. Like others, I hope that this time is soon and that we don’t need to read many more reports like Friday’s before that happens. We need action, and fast.